The Cons And Pros Of High Heat

The heat is on. Here at the farm I’ve been cutting grass in the mornings, then sequestering myself inside with the swamp cooler and old movies until the weather breaks in the evening. Then Trish and I will go out with a couple of drinks and watch the bats rise up. They roost underneath the train trestle located near the southwest corner of the property.

I’ve been gathering materials for the Death or Glory. Beams were ordered yesterday and I found the metal I’ll need to fabricate a few dozen brackets at the scrap yard. My experience there was less dramatic than my last visit—I managed to avoid hooking myself through the nose with barbed wire. The scrap yard is a magical place for a metal-worker. The place is littered with piles and bins and stacks of different types and sizes of metal. I had to put on the blinders and only come home with more or less what I’d come for. Making those brackets will save me a lot of dough—I priced inferior brackets at Lowe’s and they came in around six bucks a pop. A beefier bracket at Meek’s was sixteen. I need at least thirty-two of them. The metal I bought cost me forty five bucks and I could probably make a hundred or more brackets out of it. I’m thrilled about the savings, but now I have to cut the metal, hammer it flat, bend it, and drill holes through for the bolts. Banging on hot metal isn’t the most comfortable activity you could choose on a day when the mercury is hovering over a hundred.

On a more positive note, the heat is ripening some of the fruits and vegetables. A particularly luscious “donut” peach tree is producing wonderful, white-fleshed peaches laden with natural sugars. The fruit is flat and wide, hence the name, and has a small pit. I had high hopes for making a peach wine, but the tree is young and smallish, and the fruit is simply too delicious to wait on; it looks like they will all be eaten before the fourth of July.

The donut is one of three different varieties of peach in the yard, and fortunately they don’t all ripen at the same time. My favorite is an old variety called “Indian Free.” It was a type grown by Thomas Jefferson, and the tree is disease-resistant and beautifully formed. It produces a pink-purplish fruit with a skin thicker than most peaches I’m used to. This is the second year this tree has produced, and it looks like we’re in for a bounty, but right now the Indian Free peaches are small and hard—I expect it will be at least a few weeks before they are ripe enough to start harvesting.

Thus far we’ve only harvested cherry tomatoes, but the larger types are finally starting to blush. We may have ripe tomatoes by week’s end. The peppers are the only annual crop we’ve got that is producing consistently right now. All varieties are fruiting regularly.

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Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.